A Beautiful Struggle for the More

There’s a saying that we have within my church community where we want people to be able to “struggle well” in their life with God.  None of us are blind to the fact that this life is filled with obstacles and difficulties that come our way.  Because of the battles we face and all the obstacles in our way, we have to be alert and aware of them.  We are warned to stay alert.  Warfare and attack is a very real thing that is in front of those that choose to walk with God.  The Enemy is always out to take us out in someway to get us to not trust the heart of God and choose our false-self.  This is reality, this is fact.

Now, that being said, John Eldredge and the Ransomed Heart team, recently put out a podcast series they called “What’s Going On?” (Click here to go their Podcast page) They opened up something to me that was frontier to me and yet, also was right in front of me and but I never could name it.  To give a quick summary, the thought is that all of the struggles that we all face as believers quite possibly, something more than we think.  Often times, the quick answer for a believer is, this is warfare.  This is spiritual attack.

The conversation in this podcast, however, opened my eyes to something.  That is the idea and belief that many of the struggles we face is God pressing on the accelerator, if you will, to grow us and train us.  That God is hastening our spiritual growth and maturity and uses the struggles and battles for that purpose.  This really got me thinking to all of the things so many of those around me are facing and the struggles I have personally faced.  Then when I look back, I can see how growth has happened as a result.20180718_113930_0001.png

So think about this.  Think about the things you’re facing right now.  What do you think God is doing in that?  Can you see how He is actually trying to grow and mature you?  In the book I’m currently reading, The Heart of a Warrior by Michael Thompson, he talks about the God training us up as warriors into a deeper life with Him.  So in reading that and listening to this conversation, this idea of training keeps resurfacing.  I think there’s something to this.

Let’s take a look at Scripture.  All through the Bible you see training taking place.  Look at the life of Paul.  Following his conversion, he is put through the ringer all in the process of growing more Christ like and ready to reach more and more of the the Gentile world with the Gospel.  Richard Rohr paraphrase what Paul wrote in Philippians 4:12-13.  We all know verse 13, which is often quoted, “I can do all things in Christ, who gives me strength.

Richard Rohr’s paraphrase goes as follows, “Now that I have been through my initiation, I am ready. For anything. Anywhere.”  Paul when through significant initiation.  He was shipwrecked, stoned, jailed, and so much more.  All of his struggles were a beautiful part of his growth and initiation.

Today, we are faced with a great deal of struggle and suffering in our lives from number of angles.  In our careers, our family lives, with friends, the loss of loved ones, and so much more.  I want you to do some introspective in your life and look at some of your toughest battles.  Things that seemed to derail you in the moment.  Then look at how you may have grown from that situation.  Ask God to show you what He was or is doing in that?

1Timothy4-8There’s no doubt that the enemy is waiting for his next opportunity to pounce.  When trouble comes, that is the moment of testing of whether we will press further into God or open the doorway for greater destruction.  So take some time to think about this, in your own life.  The with God life brings with it, so much beauty and at the same time there is still a great deal of struggle in it.   But the struggle is beautiful when we allow it to lead to a deeper life with God.

As we are warned, watch-out and be alert.  Also, learn at the same time, what God may be up to when he allows the difficulty and trials to come.  Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 4:8, ““Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.”  Remember that God is still training us.  We’re not finished yet.  This training takes a lifetime, but the hope and glory beyond that in the Kingdom is going to be well worth it.

Advertisements

Is This About Me?

There’s no doubt and no denying that we are in a self-driven culture.  A self-sufficient, self-reliant culture.  This life, each and every day, tells us to figure what I can do, to make life work for me.  Achieve success.  Achieve, win, go faster, be on top.  You get the idea.  Living and working in two different worlds has led me to learn that it does not matter what line of work we are in or what, the self, the ego, if you will, is always right there to give us a nudge and push us along.

Over the past couple of years, I have been blessed to begin counseling with individuals and couples and also to work with a solid team of to host men’s ministry weekends or boot camps as we have called them.  While it has been hard burning the candle at both ends, maintaining my long-term work in the process, it has been some very fruitful and fulfilling work to see individuals and families transformed come alive in a variety of ways.

In the midst of it all, however, I always think back to the first night of our first boot camp.  We didn’t know what we were doing.  We had a plan, felt led by the Spirit, and were going to execute it as best we could.  That first night and the next morning, however, events happened, that God used to tell me, “When are you going to remember that I am in control?”  It was as clear as can be.  We prayed through that and allowed God to take more and more control, which was the best thing we could have done.

Now fast-forward.  We’ve held 3 weekends, my wife helped lead a weekend for women, and we are planning our fourth men’s weekend this Fall.  What has been very obvious is the ministry that has sort of morphed out of all of this and the thoughts for continued growth that has come from all of this.  We are in the planning the stages of something new to be birthed and will be so pumped to share about it as it all comes together.

20180716_114333_0001.pngAs I think about it this, I guess I’m writing this post as a reminder to myself, just as much as it is for all of you.  This is not about me or any of you.  This life is not about us.  It is about God, as the author, creator, and perfecter of our story and lives, through Jesus Christ.  Every morning, as a part of my prayer, I pray that God helps me to remember that this is all about Him and not about me, that He is the Hero of this story and that I belong to Him.

So, I started this post, but talking about the self-fulfilling culture we live in.  I was led to Galatians 5:16, where Paul writes (out of The Message), “My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God’s Spirit.  Then you won’t feed the compulsions of selfishness.” He goes on to write, “For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day.”

AllThingsNewLearning from this is very important for all of us. God places desires in our heart for living, but those desires from Him are out of desire to live a life with God.  When we go to try to make life work on our own, pursuing self-fulfilling desires that are driven by the false-self, we will be derailed and life cannot be found there.  John Eldredge wrote, “Faith looks back and draws courage; hope looks ahead, and keeps desire alive.”

So what are you looking to.  What are the ambitions that drive you ahead?  Is it purely out of what this life will bring you, or do you look ahead to the hope that is head by pursing the Great Adventure with God?  Do you seek His will or your own?  As Paul write, the free spirit, which we have in Christ is at odds with self-interest or the false-self.

The false-self says, how can I make life work for me.  The true-self or the free spirit as Peterson put it, seeks and desires the ultimate life, that comes only with God and through Jesus Christ.  Paul wrote in Ephesians 4 to put off our old-self, our sinful and false nature (this is the nature that is self-driven) and put on our new nature, our true-self, that is created to be like God, truly holy and righteous.

We have a great hope that lies ahead with the coming of Christ and restoration of all things.  I urge you brothers and sisters, do not spend your life trying to make life work for just yourself.  There is no life to be found there.  This is not about us.  It is about God first.  Choose a life with Him.  Don’t be so short sighted to strive for the worlds standards or your own standards of success.  You will miss the mark big time.

Align yourself with God and allow the Holy Spirit to overwhelm you and lead you in the way you should go.  God is trying to grow us and train us in this life in order to perfect us for His Kingdom.  Choose the, with God, life.

Choosing to be Fathered

As I’ve said before, the word God had for me this year was, intimacy.  Choosing to take the year and learn what it looks like to walk closer to God and learning to keep margin in my life so that this intimacy can be intentionally cultivated. So God’s been bringing back to something significant in the past weeks.  The idea of being Fathered or Sonship.  My sonshipbuddy, Chris, brought this up recently in going back through some teachings we’ve both been under about reorienting to God as Father.  I’ve brought a version of this teaching to the Boot Camps I’ve been blessed to lead over the last year.

Tonight, I’m sitting in a hotel room, and after I finished dinner, I decided to punch up a session taught by Morgan Snyder of Ransomed Heart.  I’ve heard this teaching before live and online and as I’ve mentioned, it is a part of what I teach now.  But something clicked this evening as I began to listen to Morgan again.  A couple of questions.  What places in my heart have I still not allowed God to Father in me? Where have I been Fathered and not even realized in?

I’ve overlooked this before, but part of the session, Morgan talks about the different people that God has used to Father him in recent years.  I started reflecting.  At the Anvil Boot Camp, I share some of Sonship and how God is trying to reorient us back to Him as Father. That this has always been his intention.  But have I really stopped to think about the varying ways that God has Fathered me?

When I think on this question, I see the answer immediately. No I have not and I have not fully appreciated this.  God will choose to Father us in some many ways and through so many different people.  After my dad died in 2009, I spent the next few years in a wandering daze.  I fell under bad kings and listened to bad advice.  I also tried to figure out life on my own, without God and without anyone else.  I lived in isolation. John Eldredge says something very profound in Wild at Heart.  “The world is rigged in a way that it does not work apart from God.”  I didn’t know this yet.

I’ve shared before a dream I had of my dad, about 6 months after his death, while my oldest son was in the hospital.  He met me in my office building, actually almost exactly 8 years ago this week, and through his arms around me and said he was going to help get rid of the devil in me. Very vivid dream.  Made me recall William Wallace in Braveheart when he sees his father after he is killed, tell him that his heart is free and not be be afraid to live by it.  I always looked to this dream as the start of something, although it took a few more years.41ebvat8gvl-_sy344_bo1204203200_

The first fathering began through a man named Tim.  This man is now my friend and pastor.  Actually, almost like a big brother.  He helped, although I didn’t realize it, though small conversations around baseball, to steer me in a new direction. The next most unlikely fathering, actually came through a lady that I worked with. Her name was KC and God put an urge in heart heart to give a book.  This book was Wild at Heart.  It sat on my desk for nearly 18 months before I read it, but I know God used that moment to continue Fathering me, and leading me back to Him.  Because of that moment, a ripple effect has taken place that continues to today.  My friend Steve reflected on it and shared this after we finished our 3rd Boot Camp this past weekend.  “All of the miracles coming out, simply due to someone caring enough about a friend, and giving that friend a book to read.”  It’s rather amazing to seek how Abba works.

nothinglost_bgsknifeOver the years since then, radical transformation began.  God placed other men in my life to help guide me.  Tim and I grew a closer friendship, other brothers have been used including Butch, Steve, and others, and thenguys like John Eldredge, Morgan Snyder, and a gentleman named Mark Woods became men that were also used to Father me from a distance. It’s kind of wild to think about, when we choose to allow God to Father us in whatever way he deems is needed, the change and transformation that happens over time will be tremendous.  God has even Fathered me through a knife that I had lost, when a new one arrived in the mail 6 months later.

As I reflect on this idea of being Fathered by God in radical a new ways, I realize that this is all a part of this growth in intimacy with Him.  Resting on that and resting in my identity as a son through Jesus Christ bring with it deeper and deeper meaning.  So think about this today, in your own life.  Have you felt unfathered in some areas, skewing your idea and view of God as Father?  If so, where?  Then think about what ways and through who God has already been trying to Father you and have been receptive of it.

It’s something we must choose.  The Fathering does not come forced.  God wants us to choose Him, but we must begin to change our perspective.  Will you choose to be Fathered?

Taking the Winding and Narrow Road

Over the last 6 months, I’ve ventured back into the world of running. I could probably , over the last 20 years, count on one hand, how many times I had ran up to a mile. I began the journey to get healthier in 2013, along with my wife and last fall, decided to kick it up a notch, challenging myself to train for and compete in a Spartan race. Needless to say, it has been quite a journey. It’s been exciting to see the progression. In September, I could barely do a mile and now, 6 months later, I am pushing between 4 and 5 miles. I don’t particularly like running, but I can’t be mad at the progression.

One of my favorite things so far, is hitting the trails at a local park. They have paved and dirt trails, that give a nice challenge and are also quite scenic. Never run through, without seeing a family of white tail deer watch me run by. It’s a beautiful time to be in some solitude and push the body a little bit more and more each time around. To share some of my routine, on Mondays, I usually do some interval runs through my neighborhood. It’s very hilly and definitely good training, which as prepared for the longer trail runs later in the week.

So last week, I decided to change my Monday up a little. I ran out of my neighborhood, onto the main road and planned to do a little more of a distance run. When you get out of my neighborhood, it is less hilly and windy, and more long and flat stretches. Being the first time, I found this run more challenging, and by 2 miles, I found myself walking again for a bit.

WideRoad

I was bummed at myself afterwards, but then a thought begin to fill my mind. That particular run is the perfect metaphor for the life away from God, when we choose the world first. It was wide open, I could see for quite a ways, and while running it felt like a hopeless effort to get to the goal. I then started getting flashes to my first real encounter with God, when I came to know Christ. He showed me that my life had been just that. Wide and open and easy. Easy in the sense, that there was no risk, and I could always see ahead of me, striving for a goal that only found significance in this life and it was empty.

It was in this moment that God showed me that, if I would trust Him, the road he would take me down from there would be narrower and very windy. I would never see around the next bend, but He would always be there with me and ahead of me. This run was the perfect reminder of that moment and reflection of my life before I met Christ verses after. Maybe that’s a part of the reason I like the trail runs better.

God then reminded me of two very significant verse in Matthew. Jesus says:

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad and easy to travel is the path that leads the way to destruction and eternal loss, and there are many who enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow and difficult to travel is the path that leads the way to [everlasting] life, and there are few who find it.” – Matthew 7:13-14 (AMP)

What a significant reminder this was to me. The “with God life,” as Dallas Willard calls it, is a narrow and windy road. It is one that is difficult to travel, but the fruit and results of choosing this narrow road are very rewarding, eternally. Unfortunately, only a few choose to enter this narrow gate and take the difficult path.

In actuality, though, it shouldn’t be difficult. Because of our false-self, and because of the decision we make through that, we make the road harder and harder. We have world in our ear, we have the enemy out to sabotage us, and we are tempted to gravitate toward the less wild lovers that we find false significance and validation in. We want the easy road. We want the shortcuts. In our culture now, we want everything quicker and simpler.

colorado-rocky-mountains-national-park-path-on-the-mountain_800

Fortunately, I won’t say unfortunately…Fortunately, for us, God does not work that way. He is trying to constantly slow us down get us to turn our hearts and minds towards Him. In order for our continued restoration to happen, until the day that we step into eternity, there will be many turns and hills and obstacles to move through and around. Choosing this path with God, will be the best decision you could ever make.

I don’t say this lightly. I’ve been on both sides of this, but I have seen some amazing things, since I chose to let go and allow Jesus to do what He needs to do in my heart, which has. in turn, caused a major ripple that has impacted my family and so many others. It’s pretty cool to see that happen.

So my challenge to you today. Take the narrow and winding road with God. It’s a journey that only a few take, just as Jesus said. Be one of those few. He’s showing you the Kingdom. Take up the challenge and choose the narrow road. I promise you that you won’t regret it.

Joy as a Dad

I have been a dad for 20 years now.  Over half my life.  I became a dad when I was 19 years old, when Amber and I welcomed our first born, Shawn, into the world.  We were on the early parenthood plan.  By the grace of God, we’ve made it over 20 years as parents and nearly 21 as husband and wife now with 3 children.  I had someone ask me recently about want to take parenting classes.  It was serious, but I couldn’t help but laugh a little.  Not at them, but at the idea.  I’m sure there are good classes out there, but bottom line is, you learn this thing as a you go.

So these last many days and weeks, I’ve been reflecting a lot on our years as parents and on the role I’ve played as dad, or as my daughter calls me, padre.  There’s been a lot of cool and fun things that have happened over the years.  Watching these kids grow up has had me filled with so much joy.  Have there been struggles, ummmm, yeah there have, but we’ve made it through all of them.

Now some of the coolest things are really starting to come out.  Maybe it has a lot to do with them growing older and really beginning to find their own identities, but I can honestly say that I could not have fully imagined what they would have been like once they began to really allow God to work in them and through them.

Okay, by way of background, if you don’t know us personally, we have been a very closed off and introverted family.  Amber and I marrying so young and starting a family, drifted into a life of solitude.  It was us against the world, proving we could make it starting so young.  So that led to habits of being reserved and quiet when outside of our element, our home.  This was a lot of how I operated in the work place as well, even having a colleague years back tell me that I was difficult to read because of how quiet and reserved I was.  I lived as a lone ranger and I was raising a family of lone rangers, so to speak.  Of course, the kids picked up our habits along the way.  Our sons seemed to a great deal more.

After coming to faith in Christ 3 years ago, I knew something had to change.  Amber followed over the next year as did the the kids.  I began to make new connections and grow from being apathetic, to becoming curious, to finally confessing Christ in January 2015, to becoming a disciple and apprentice of Jesus, and now to equipping others.  Amber has since followed that and seeing this beautiful woman freed up as well and seeing her come alive has been so wonderful.

With that, one of our biggest prayers and concerns was now, what about our kids?  We continued to pray for them to open up and and urging them to do so.  It was not a habit easily broken.  I’ll admit, we got fairly frustrated at times.  We wondered at times, will they ever get out of their shells.  In looking back though, I realize, we were in ours for way longer.

I don’t know what that actual pivotal moment was, or even it was just a series of circumstances, but something has clicked this year.  To seem them building real, Christ centered relationships, to see them doing life, to see them getting involved in ministry and even a desire for some missions opportunities, has been phenomenal.  All 3 of our kids, in their own unique way, are starting to get freed up and see some real God style things happening in their lives.  It fills me with so much joy as it does Amber.

I have learned previously that one of the most beautiful things that God does is take time.  Nothing is instant. I just was not patient enough for that to be the case for my own kids.  So now, and I see God, with a smile on his face, saying, “You want to see something? Watch this,” and then suddenly a fire is lit under each of them in way I never fully expected.  I think if Bruce Almighty when he says, “Now you’re just showing off.”

I share this to tell all of you and I know many who worry about their own kids futures.  Yes, our kids have to step into life and figure things out through trial and error just as we all did.  But know that God is not holding out on you.  Be faithful in prayer over them and in encouragement that God can take a hold of their heart.  The outcome is not up to us and we have no control over that.  Trust in the God that made them each uniquely and wonderfully and had each of them in mind since before the foundations of the earth.  It’s never too late.

Lost to Leader: God’s Call Is Real

I’ve done a lot of reflecting over the last month of what God has done in my life and where he continues to lead me.  As I’ve written previously, this is a year of stepping back and seeking deeper intimacy with God and cultivating a real interactive relationship with him.  At the same time, I look with eager anticipation of what may be coming next.  I’ve learned however, that I cannot rush whatever God may be doing and one of the most beautiful things he does is take time.  Am I willing to trust that time?  That remains the question.

My pastor and friend, Tim, shared a sermon a couple of weeks back as we began a real push toward discipleship.  So many times we have people that say they surrender to Christ and maybe even take the step of Baptism, but then what happens.  From my short experience, with the exception of a few, many fall away.  This leads to the Great Omission from the Great Commission, “Teaching then to observe everything that I have commanded you(Matthew 28:20).  Dallas Willard stated that…

The Great Omission from The Great Commission is the idea that we can  be “Christians” forever and never become disciples. Christians generally don’t have a plan for doing everything that Jesus commanded. We don’t as a rule even have a plan for learning this ourselves, and perhaps assume it is simply impossible. And that explains the yawning abyss today between being Christian and being a disciple.”

One of the things I have realized is that this is a journey that only a few will often take.  But is there something we can do about that?  Granted, you cannot drag someone by the hair to make them observe and follow Christ.  They have to reach that point in their life where they can truly let go and begin to follow authentically.  I look at Jesus’ conversation with the rich young ruler, where Jesus tells him to sell everything he has and follow him, but this guy just could not bring himself to.  He could not let go of what he thought was his and the things he found worth and value in.  So many men and women have this same struggle.  They can’t let go.  They say the trust God, but then don’t.  Even say, “I trust God, but…..”  You can’t say you trust God and in the same breath say “but.”  That revokes that trust right away.

So during Tim’s sermon, he pushed our vision as a Church as a discipleship culture.  Bringing people in and then teaching them and equipping them to go out and do the same, creating disciples and teaching and equipping them.  It’s we are all called to do.  Tim shared a piece of my own story.  The week before the sermon, January 31, marked 3 years (2015) since the day I surrendered to Christ and told God that I would follow and trust him.  That journey started the 4 years prior to when he and I first met, through baseball.

3 Years!!!!  He used the term, “Lost to Leader.”  I half jokingly thought and shared with him that, “hmmmm, sounds like a nice book title.”  Anyway, 3 years.  In that short amount of time, God has done some absolutely amazing things in me and through me.  When I stood up and began to lead as a husband and father, the effects began to take root.  One year to the day, I Baptize my wife and children as they began to come alive and wow, that continues to happen to this day.  God put a call on my life that I could not ignore and counseling and then men’s ministry came about.

I know I’m talking about 2 different things here, but they are all related.  I realize that so often, people get all the good feelings, “surrender” or pray a prayer and then that’s it.  Whether it’s a fear of freedom or like the rich young ruler not able to let go of the false-self and where they found value and worth before.

So first, my message to these people, is it is soooo worth it, to truly let go of the old, of the less wild lovers, and begin to learn to live a life that follow Christ.  It is doable.  Look at me.  3 years!!!  It has not always been easy.  I’ve struggled with Spiritual Warfare, I’ve doubted myself, and even questioned many times, especially early on if I was out of my mind or if this all real and worth it.  John 16:33, “In this life you will have many trials and struggles, but take heart, I have overcome the world.”  This has become my life verse.  Remembering that the battles will continue, but you will be equipped overtime to handle them in a better way.  He has done this with me, for sure.  If God can use this ragamuffin, he will use you too.  You have to choose to truly repent and truly follow.

To those of us that follow Christ now and call ourselves Christian, what are we doing to truly create disciples and equip them.  I think we have failed in our responsibility in many ways, because we get excited at the surrender and at the Baptism, but then what.  I said earlier that I was in men’s ministry, but actually, I feel what God has called me into is mens’ discipleship.  That’s why we started these Anvil Boot Camps modeled after Ransomed Heart’s ministry with their Boot Camp weekends.

Discipleship includes equipping the saints and training them up to stand as the sons and daughters they are meant to be.  We have to do a better job.  Share the Gospel and share our stories of what Jesus has done in our lives, and then don’t stop there.  It takes work, but if we remain relentless, then we begin to do what we were commanded to do.

For those that are so uncertain and just unwilling to step into deep end, I challenge you to let go.  Stand as the real man or real woman that you are, not what the world thinks you are.  John Eldredge sums it up so well in Wild at Heart…

“The world of posers is shaken by a real man.  They do whatever it takes to get you back in line – threaten you, bribe you, seduce you, undermine you.  They crucified Jesus.  But it didn’t work, did it? You must let your strength show up.  Remember Christ in the Garden, the sheer force of his presence (John 18:6)?  Many of us have actually been afraid to let our strength show up because the world doesn’t have a place for it.  Fine.  The world’s screwed up.  Let people feel the weight of who you are and let them deal with it.

There is so much truth here.  Again, my challenge to all of you who are just teetering on the edge, let go, for real.  It is doable.  Look at what God has done and continues to do in my life.  There is so much more beyond what I’ve written here.  I was lost, but then I was found.  I was lost and because a leader within 3 years, and I’m still growing.  It’s nowhere near done, but I’ve made the commitment to truly trust in God and follow him into the unknown.  Step up and stand in the gap.  I promise you there are brothers or sisters that want to stand and walk with you.  You don’t have to do it alone.

What are you going to do?

“Discipleship is being with another person, under appropriate conditions, in order to become capable of doing what that person does or to become like that what that person is. An “apprentice” of Jesus is learning from him how to lead their life as he would lead their life if he were they.” – Dallas Willard

What is Your Frontier?

As this next year begins and I continue diving into what this whole idea of deeper intimacy looks like, I was struck by something during my reading.  Morgan Snyder, with Ransomed Heart, who spearheads Become Good Soil, recently wrote a blog called Anything, Anywhere – The Four Primary Questions of Masculine Initiation.   In this post, Morgan writes about Paul, and the initiation he went through, many of those years hidden from our site, to become the Apostle is winds up penning the majority of the New Testament.  A very good read, and I encourage you to take the time do so.

One of the four questions that Morgan refers mentions is, “What is my frontier?”  This question really struck me as I began to ponder this.  I’ve talked about things, in conversation, that were frontier to me, but I don’t know how much I really every processed what it meant to my spiritual life and my walk with God.  Morgan quotes Howard Macey is that “the spiritual life cannot be made suburban, it is always frontier.  Those who choose to live in it must not only accept it, but even rejoice that it remain untamed.

I’ve been meditating on this for several days and I believe that God has been showing that this is an area that is very important to remember.  Understanding where I am in God’s story, doing introspection on my own spiritual maturity, and then looking at where I still need to grow and mature.  It’s a part of how we are initiated as the men and women that God desires to restore us to, but can only happen by our willingness to step into the journey.

Paul writes in Ephesians 4 that our continued growth and maturation will not be done until “we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ” (v. 13).  So back to Howard Macey’s quote and what Morgan was getting at, we must continue to step into the new and unknown territories of our faith and in learning the fullness of who God is (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit).

This is a significant area of my journey in really trying to do introspective on what is my frontier.  Essentially, what areas of my life and heart have I not yet yielded to God to allow him to continue maturing those parts of me.  This is that progressive sanctification.  It is lifetime journey of continuing to desire to know more of God and wanting to walk closer to him in such a way that he now becomes a part of your everyday life and is brought into everything that you do.

Am I there?…No, by no means.  We all have a long way to go.  I stand as a man, just about 3 years since driving the stake in the ground, and wow, something new keeps getting thrown my way that God is using to continue to mature and grow me.  I often times, feel like such an infant in this, but it’s a journey where there is no such thing as maybe, which pushes me deeper and deeper into this.

MountainRoadSo I want to challenge you to look at your life. Look at your walk with God, if you’ve started to walk with him.  If not yet, that’s okay right now, but begin to understand why.  If you’re still holding on to life as is, especially a life apart from God that does not allow for continued growth, you have to ask yourself, why?  Why do I hold on to a life in the false self that is not yielded?  Who have I allowed God to be in my life, if you’ve allowed him in at all?  Am I willing to follow him into another unknown?

Now, if you’ve been walking with God and have surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus, whether recently or years ago, what is your frontier?  Where in your life have you yet allowed God to mature and grow you into the fullness of Christ?  What training and development is still needed in my life to become more spiritually mature?  Is it in prayer, your knowledge of God as Father, Son, and/or Holy Spirit?  Is it in the way you engage with other believers?  Is it in disciplines such as solitude, silence, fasting, celebration, etc?  Is it in learning to slowdown from the busyness of life and building greater intimacy with God?  Those are just some areas for example.

We have to begin to do introspection in this way.  What is your plan for growth?  What is your frontier?  Starting a new year, this is a great time to begin to assess this in your life.  Spend time with God and ask him where your frontier is now.  Where does he want you to focus?  What words does he have for you in this?

Take these questions to trusted peers and mentors as well.  Others that are on the journey with you or have walked the ancient road ahead of you.  This question of frontier does not end now. Your frontier now, may not be your frontier next year or 5 years from now.  The point is, be willing to continue moving deeper, but always assessing this part of your life and where growth and maturation is still needed.

What’s beautiful about it all, is that God, through different ways will continue to take you down new roads you’ve never thought and you won’t see coming.  It’s a beautiful risk and adventure, and believe me, just from what I’ve experienced so far, it is so worth it.